« ZurückWeiter »
The peasants round lift from the ground
His form in woful plight,
Bear back the robber knight.
“Our dear young lord, what may afford
A charcoal-burner's store
Our heated kiln before !”
Three mournful days the mother prays,
And weeps the children's fate;
A sound is at the gate.
The mother hears, her head she rears,
She lifts her eager finger,
Open! O, wherefore linger?”
See, cap in hand the woodman stand,
Mother, no more of weeping,
Before him Albrecht, leaping,
My mother! O, my mother !
The good dog tore the other.”
Or who the thanks may tell,
How he had “ trilled * him well !”
“I trilled him well,” he still will tell
In homely phrase his story, * Trillen, to shake ; a word analogous to our trill, to shake the voice in singing.
To those who sought to know how wrought
An unarmed hand such glory.
That mother sad again is glad,
Her home no more bereft ;
Within the Devil's Cleft.
That cave within, these men of sin
Had learnt their leader's fall,
At price of grace to all.
Another day, and Ernest lay
Safe on his mother's breast :
Had brought her joy and rest.
The giant knight was judged aright,
Sentenced to death he lay;
Sent forth the doom to stay.
But all too late, and o'er the gate
Of Freiburg's council hall
The traitor's eyes appal.
The scullion Hans who wrought their plans,
And oped the window grate,
He met a traitor's fate.
Behold how gay the wood to-day,
The little church how fair, What banners wave, what tapestry brave,
Covers its carvings rare !
A goodly train, - the parents twain,
And here the princes two,
Here with his pole, George, stout of soul,
And all his comrades true.
High swells the chant, all jubilant,
And each boy bending low,
He wore the night of woe.
Beside them lay a smock of gray,
All grimed with blood and smoke;
That spared the sapling oak.
“What prize wouldst hold, thou ‘Triller bold,'
Who trilled well for my son ?”
Near where the fight was won.
“Nay, Triller mine, the land be thine,
My trusty giant-killer,
Grant free to George the Triller!”
Years hundred four, and half a score,
Those robes have held their place;
From Albrecht's royal race.
The child rescued by George the Triller's Golden Deed was the ancestor of the late Prince Consort, and thus of our future line of kings. He was the son of the Elector Friedrich the Mild of Saxony, and of Margarethe of Austria, whose dream presaged her children's danger. The Elector had incurred the vengeance of the robber baron, Sir Konrad of Kauffingen, who, from his huge stature, was known as the Giant Ritter, by refusing to make up to him the sum of 4000 gulden which he had had to pay for his ransom after being made prisoner in the Elector's service. In reply to his threats, all the answer that the robber knight received was the proverbial one, “Do not try to burn the fish in the ponds, Kunz.”
Stung by the irony, Kunz bribed the Elector's scullion, by name Hans Schwabe, to admit him and nine chosen comrades into the castle of Altenburg on the night of the 7th of July, 1455, when the Elector was to be at Leipzig. Strange to say, this scullion was able to write, for a letter is extant from him to Sir Konrad, engaging to open the window immediately above the steep precipice, which on that side was deemed a sufficient protection to the castle, and to fasten a rope-ladder by which to ascend the crags. This window can still be traced, though thenceforth it was bricked up. It gave access to the children's apartments, and on his way to them, the robber drew the bolt of their mother's door, so that though, awakened by the noise, she rushed to her window, she was a captive in her own apartment, and could not give the alarm, nor do anything but join her vain entreaties to the cries of her helpless children. It was the little son of the Count von Bardi whom Wilhelm von Mosen brought down by mistake for young Albrecht, and Kunz, while hurrying up to exchange the children, bade the rest of his band hasten dn to secure the elder prince without waiting for him. He followed in a few seconds with Albrecht in his arms, and his servant Schweinitz riding after him, but he never overtook the main body. Their object was to reach Konrad's own castle of Isenburg on the frontiers of Bohemia, but they quickly heard the alarm-bells ringing, and beheld beacons lighted upon every hill. They were forced to betake themselves to the forests, and about half-way, Prince Ernst's captors, not daring to go any further, hid themselves and him in a cavern called the Devil's Cleft, on the right bank of the river Mulde.
Kunz himself rode on till the sun had risen, and he was within so few miles of his castle that the terror of his name was likely to be a sufficient protection. Himself and his horse were, however, spent by the wild midnight ride, and on the border of the wood of Eterlein, near the monastery of Grünheim, he halted, and finding the poor child grievously exhausted and feverish, he lifted him down, gave him water, and went himself in search of wood-strawberries for his refreshment, leaving the two horses in the charge of Schweinitz. The servant dozed in his saddle, and meanwhile the charcoal-burner, George Schmidt, attracted by the sounds, came out of the wood, where all night he had been attending to the kiln, hollowed in the earth, and heaped with earth and roots of trees, where a continual charring of wood was going on. Little Albrecht no sooner saw this man than he sprang to him, and telling his name and rank, entreated to be rescued from these cruel men. The servant awaking, leapt down and struck a deadly blow at the boy's head with his pole-axe, but it was parried by the chorcoal-burner, who, interposing with one hand the strong wooden pole he used for stirring his kiln, dragged the little prince aside with the other, and at the same time set his great dog upon the servant. Sir Konrad at once hurried back, but the valiant charcoal-burner still held his ground, dangerous as the fight was between the peasant unarmed except for the long pole, and the fully accoutred knight of gigantic size and strength. However, a whistle from George soon brought a gang of his comrades to his aid, and Kunz, finding himself surrounded, tried to leap into his saddle, and break through the throng by weight of man and horse, but his spur became entangled, the horse ran away, and he was dragged along with his head on the ground till he was taken up by the peasants and